The Potential & Perils of Pokémon Scarlet/Violet
To Hype or to Not Hype?
This past week, the Pokémon Company finally released a more in-depth trailer for their upcoming games: Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet. While this trailer has taken the internet by storm and the announcement of some new Pokémon certainly has people excited, this old trainer still has some doubts. The core Pokémon games haven’t really changed much over the years and it’s still too early to tell what Game Freak will do with this new entry. Thus far things seem promising, but there are a few elements that may make gamers a bit upset.
To reiterate, this is the first main trailer we got for Pokémon Scarlet/Violet. There is still a lot we don’t know about the new features these games will have, or just how much they’ll do differently. Thanks to the Pokémon website there are some things we do know. The most significant improvement (in my opinion) is the 4 player co-op. It’s not just trading and battling with your friends anymore; you could get your friends in a game and explore the new region in real-time. While we still don’t know exactly how this will implement gameplay, it’s an excellent start, as fans have been wanting multiplayer like this for years.
Outside of the multiplayer, for the first time in Pokémon history, there are not one, but two professors that will help you on your Pokémon journey. Depending on which game you get, you’ll encounter Professor Sada (Scarlet) and Professor Turo (Violet). While it’s a bummer to see the tree theme go away, the names of these professors are a bit of a clue in themselves. “Sada” is taken from Pasado and “Turo” is taken from Futuro, which are the Spanish words for past and future respectively. These names add more credence to rumors that the new region is based on Spain, and the story has to deal with the past and future.
It’s no surprise that a new Pokémon game has fresh Pokémon, and we got some looks at a handful of the newcomers. We already knew about the starters for Pokémon Scarlet/Violet, but we also met Pawmi (an Electric type), Smoliv (a Grass-normal type), and Lechonk, the Normal type that’s taken the internet by storm. We also saw the legendaries Koraidon and Miraidon who grace the covers of their respective games.
Next, there’s the battle system, which is an area where some fans have a few complaints. Pokémon has utilized a tried-and-true battle system for years, but fans are getting a bit fed up with the mechanics. Pokémon Legends: Arceus was a step in the right direction, as battles with other Pokémon happen instantaneously and you didn’t need to transition into a battle screen. Once again, this is only the first trailer for Pokémon Scarlet/Violet, and we got a very quick look at how battles will play out. Hopefully, a few new features will be introduced to reinvigorate battles.
While nearly every new main entry in the franchise has added something new, Scarlet/Violet is including the one thing gamers have been begging for for years; a truly open world to explore that isn’t dictated by the story. This means you can travel the entire region without having to beat the first gym leader. While this is certainly exciting, we still don’t know how this will work. Historically, your Pokémon would get stronger the further you progressed in-game. A good way to encourage exploration (and have no fear of a super-strong Pokémon one-shotting your entire team) would be level scaling. To use Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl as an example, the Pokémon in the Grand Underground of those games are usually 3-5 levels higher than the strongest Pokémon on your team. They can be a challenge to fight, but aren’t so strong that they can take you out in 1 hit. Game Freak almost got this right with the Wild Area in Sword/Shield, but many gamers will tell you about how they found an overpowered, uncatchable Pokémon the second they unlocked the area.
While it is exciting to see and hear about the new features, this old trainer is still a bit cautious with his Pokémon Scarlet/Violet hype. Pokémon hasn’t changed much over the years in terms of story and gameplay, and while catching new monsters is always fun, it gets a little tedious after 25 years. That is not to say my mind can’t be changed when more details about these games are released.
As of now, Pokémon Scarlet/Violet is set for a November 18th, 2022 release, with more trailers and updates sure to surface in the lead-up to launch. The game looks gorgeous, the open world is what we’ve wanted for years, and 4-player co-op is the icing on the cake. I truly hope Game Freak nails it this time, and early indications look like they will.
There does seem to be quite a few differences from Legends Arceus. I don't quite mind that we're returning to a less action oriented RPG system with competitive seemingly focused on. I also think a dynamic camera is nice as move animations can get more of a spotlight.
I think the thing I'm most concerned about at the moment is the fluidity of the battle system and its animations.
From the second trailer, Scarlet and Violet seems to have returned to the "distant contact" version of its animations, where you can see Lechonk do damage with tackles animation despite being a good 5 feet away from the trainers Pokemon.
Legends felt great because the moves not only made actual contact, but the Pokemon responded to the area around them, adjusting to the terrain when they were sent out. The battles also felt very efficient without the need for overly long intros and just jumped straight into and out of battles with no need to waste time on the old "your pokemon gained this much exp and you need to teach these moves before you move on" formula.
I do worry real improvements to the battle engine and quality of life aspects may be lost as a result of the rapid pace of the games development and inability to implement the other teams developed features in time. I do know SwSh managed to implement field roaming Pokemon into the game following the positive reception of it in Lets Go in less than a year, so hopefully they do similarly.
There's still quite a few months left for improvements and plenty we haven't seen so I'm hoping for the best. I really think this game has the potential to be very special.
You haven't really added to the conversation at all here. I wish sites would have people that really deep dive into Pokemon mechanics to write up pieces about Pokemon and what they could add/change while still keeping what we love about the games. This boils down to "I play pokemon and will play this one too" with very little substance in between.
Here's something though. Arceus battles were so bad mechanically that I won't buy a new main game if they have any of the mechanics from them besides Frostbite, the only good change that needs to be carried into the new game. But all you ever get from opinion pieces like this are "I like the battles take place where you are". Like thats cool, we all like that, but that really doesn't help discuss the battle system, what works and why, and what could be added/tweaked on future games.